|Many pawnbrokers have increased interest rates for the World Cup. - Photo vtc.vn
HÀ NỘI — Football fans who have lost money betting on the World Cup have been rushing to pawnshops to take out loans or pawn their belongings.
And some dealers have been cashing in – by upping interest rates to take advantage of the trend.
Police last Friday smashed a huge gambling ring worth around a VNĐ 600 billion ($26 million) in HCM City, arrested four people and summoned several others for questioning .
The suspects allegedly admitted to operating transactions using a website hosted in the Philippines.
"Since early 2017, the total transactions of the gambling ring have been worth more than VNĐ600 billion," the Vietnam Television reported, adding that thousands of people across Việt Nam had used its services.
A pawnbroker on Nguyễn Oanh Street in HCM City told vtc.vn that gamblers whose bets paid off arrived in the morning to pick up their goods, while those who wanted to have a flutter and were short of cash arrived in the evening before the matches started to get some collateral.
Gambling is currently illegal in Việt Nam and anyone caught gambling or organising gambling could face up to 10 years in jail.
Last year the government moved to ease restrictions by introducing a pilot scheme that would allow small wagers on a limited number of international football matches.
But pawnbrokers say many people are still getting into debt and using their service.
One said: “If you borrow only VNĐ1-2million (US$44-88), the interest rate is higher than the rate when you borrow VNĐ5-10million ($217-434). The rate falls further if you borrow more than VNĐ10 million.”
Before the World Cup, the interest rate charged for loans lower than VNĐ3 million ($130) was less than VNĐ3,000 per million per day, and VNĐ2,000 per million per day for loans of more than VNĐ3 million.
The rate has increased to VNĐ4,000 ($0.17) per million per day for loans of more than VNĐ3 million and VNĐ3,000 per million per day for more than VNĐ5 million. Just a week after World Cup 2018 kicked off, many pawnshops on Láng Street are full of pawned motorbikes, phones and laptops, and some brokers have had to rent warehouses to store them.
Police in Hà Nội are trying to crack down on football betting, and have been patrolling the streets, restaurants and bars to ensure order and security. — VNS